Scleroderma happens when the body’s immune system begins attacking its own tissues instead of protecting them. This causes the affected area to thicken that in turn would limit blood flow and limit the organ’s function. Scleroderma can affect everyone but the most affected are women that are between the ages 30 and 50. This rarely happens among Northern Asians and in children and is inherent in African-American women and the Native American Choctaw tribe.
There are two main forms of scleroderma. These are systemic sclerosis which would affect two or more areas and is the more fatal form and CREST or limited scleroderma. Although limited scleroderma can be disabling, it is not very likely that it can cause death unless the condition will progress into something worse. CREST usually affects the lower arms and legs, the face and the neck and tends to progress much slower than systemic sclerosis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Crest?
CREST is an acronym for its major symptoms. C in crest stands for calcinosis which is characterized by calcium deposits forming under the skin mainly on the knees, elbows and fingers. Another symptom is Raynaud’s phenomenon which is one of the most common symptoms of any form on sclerosis. This usually begins by color changes, numbness and pain in the fingers and is caused when blood flow is limited towards the fingers.
Another common symptom of CREST is esophageal dysfunction. People with limited scleroderma often experience problems with their esophagus which makes swallowing difficult for them. They could also experience thickening in various parts of the body particularly the fingers, legs, chest, arms and legs. This condition is known as sclerodactyly. The last symptom is telangiectasia which is a collection of blood vessels on the surface of the skin.
What Causes It?
Crest happens when the body’s immune system would attack itself instead of protecting it causing numerous damages to the affected area. While this is understood, the cause of scleroderma is not clearly understood however, there are some factors that could play a role these would include genes. A person with defective genes is said to be more susceptible to scleroderma or some would say that scleroderma can be inherited.
Environmental factors could also cause scleroderma as unwanted factors in the environment such as bacteria and viruses are possible causes of it. It could also be the female hormones, since females are four times more likely to develop the illness than men are. While these may attempt to solve the unknown cause of scleroderma, none of them are proven yet and these are still theories.
How Does This Develop?
While the first signs of limited scleroderma just happens to your skin, it may make everyday living more difficult for you. However, the real pain starts if the condition would spread inside you affecting other organs. Some complications that would involve scleroderma are gastro-intestinal problems of which will make it more difficult for you to process food into waste, digital ulcers which happen when blood flow is restricted to the fingers and toes that in turn would cause ulcer.
Scleroderma can also lead to lung problems if the lungs are affected and as well as the kidneys. If any of these two organs are affected, that in turn could also cause heart problems. Other problems that are results of scleroderma are dental problems, arthritis, sicca syndrome and depression or anxiety.